[On U.S. President Trump's response to Kim Jong Un] The president has been so vocal and complimentary of Kim refraining from such testing and his own diplomatic ‘success’ that he’s really painted himself into a corner... That also gives Kim leverage: He can threaten privately and obliquely to Trump that he’s thinking about resuming testing to try to goad the president into giving up some concessions.
[North Korea's recent actions were] an attempt to manufacture tension in a calibrated way [to increase pressure on the U.S. to return to the negotiating table]... All the parties in the region have been willing to make excuses for North Korea in an effort to preserve the mood for dialogue, but there are likely to be fissures if North Korea decides to test missiles that fly over Japan or land in Japan's territorial waters.
[Kim Jong Un's relationship with the U.S. president] hasn't constrained Kim, but emboldened him... What I worry about is a North Korea missile flying over Japan or falling in Japan’s territorial waters, forcing a choice on the Trump administration to either dismiss the event, as they have on the previous missile tests, to maintain the mood of dialogue but risking the credibility of the [U.S. security] alliance.
It’s unfortunate that the president deems the DNI’s statement as a sign of disloyalty ... rather than the product of unbiased and expert analytic effort... If the perception is that the president fired Coats for just simply providing the intelligence community’s assessment, it is likely to cause concern — if it hasn’t already — about the potential for a more activist DNI.